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Black Marketing

Published 1940s

Great 1940s gangster film. Great shots of mobsters in the country and doing black market business with butchers. Great courtroom scenes with prosecutor delivering speech to jury.

19:22:39:18 VS Harry W. Jones, attorney, addressing jury in courtroom hearing a case on a black market operation.

19:23:21:06 VS shot of impassioned prosecutor speaking to jury: “We aim to put these black market operators behind bars; whenever and wherever we find them. But we shall never be able to stamp out this vicious fraternity complete, unless and until every American retailer and housewife appreciates that the roots of the black markets are in citizen forces.” CU mobster defendants.

19:24:43:20 Five mobster types sitting at a table cluttered with glasses and bottles of alcohol smoking cigarettes. One stands up to lead meeting:
“My proposition is that each of us put up $75,000 a piece to buy livestock and to take over a half dozen of the small slaughter houses around here that we can get for peanuts.”

19:24:52:02 VS mobster pulls up rural dirt road to cattle ranch and pulls over o speak to the Rancher. Great shot of mobster type city slicker in hat, suit and overcoat talking to farmer on ranch.

19:25:27:13 VS CU mobster in hat, suit and overcoat with back of farmer’s head and shoulder on right side of frame and countryside in background:
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll pay you cash 17 for that feed lot right now” lights up cigarette. MS farmer replies concerned.
Mobster: “Well the boss just wants us to build up the business a little.”

19:25:48:18 Livestock auction. Auctioneers seated in booth with “Commission Charges Per Head” rates painted on it.

19:25:59:02 CU scale slowly measuring more and more weight.

19:26:14:17 Slaughtered cattle on meat hooks in packing plant.

19:27:59:17 MS 1940s to 1950s mobster in pinstriped suit and hat pointing his finger: “All you have to do is give us a check every week for the ceiling price, and I’ll stop around every Saturday afternoon around five and pick up the rest in cash.”

19:28:11:27 CU butcher wraps a wad of cash around a soup bone, then wraps the soup bone in typical white butcher paper. Butcher places bone in bag. Mobster enters butcher shop:
“Good Morning”
“You got a nice soup bone for me?”
“I have a nice soup bone for you today.”

19:28:39:11 VS woman at butcher shop with her daughter chewing bubble gum, tries to order a steak from the butcher:
“…My son is home from camp tonight, and I want a nice big, thick, two pound porter house steak…”
“I am sorry Mrs. Kelly, I haven’t any steak. How about some nice sausage?”
“No, I think I’ll run across the street and see if I can get one there. Tom told me to be sure and have a real good thick steak for him tonight.”

19:29:45:08 CU woman on payphone with rotary dial: “Hello. Is this the O.P.A?”

19:30:17:16 VS interrogation scene. Good sound-bites:
“We make no promises. But we do ask you as a patriotic American, to tell us just how much money above the ceiling price you paid John C every Saturday?”
CU pudgy interrogator “We know a little bit about you. We want to know just what that son of yours in Africa would say about his Dad dealing with a bunch of war time chiseling saboteurs.”
CU man in suit “I guess I haven’t been straight up until now. I’ll give you any statement you want.”

19:30:55:13 Nice shot of 1940s to 1950s American Airlines plane with “the Flagship” painted on it, taxiing.

19:31:16:06 Passengers exiting the “Flagship” American Airlines plane including a male and female soldier. FBI detain mobster businessman and his brief case as he exits plane.

19:31:29:22 VS prosecuting attorney delivering closing remarks
“That ladies and gentleman of the jury concludes the government’s case against these defendants; we leave the verdict with you” attorney now turns and speaks to camera
“…black marketing doesn’t stop just with meat: shoes, potatoes, poultry, butter, tires and gasoline are all on the list. Everyone of you has a personal duty not to finance wartime racketeering. Don’t grab for more than your share of anything. If you are offered rationed foods without ration stamps, refuse to take it. Don’t be a sucker for black market prices…” now in MS attorney giving closing remarks with judge in background in front of American flag“…Your government must have your help to win the battle against black marketing…”

Producer U.S. Office of War Information, Bureau of Motion Pictures
Audio/Visual sound, B&W


"Distributed and Exhibited Under the Auspices of the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry."


Reviewer: RLT - - July 30, 2014
"Black Marketing is a 1943 dramatic propaganda short produced by the Office of War Information and directed by William Castle. It is an educational film warning American civilians against buying unrationed foodstuffs and materials." - Wikipedia (found under title of this film)
Reviewer: ERD - - December 6, 2006
Subject: Good informational film for the American WWII audience.
The film did a good job informing the American citizens about black marketing during World War II. The actor playing the lawyer must have studied the gestures and inflections of F.D.R., for he certainly uses them.
Reviewer: dynayellow - - July 20, 2004
Subject: Hey buddy... wanna buy a cow?
This dandy, though laughably-acted, short teaches us how profiteers took advantage of rationing and price-caps to make a profit on illegal beef. And what could be more American than that? Jeez, these days, they'd be given Cabinet seats.

Best scene: a dirty, filthy butcher spills his guts after being reminded that--oh yes--he's got a son in the Army, who wouldn't approve of such things. Musta forgot.
Reviewer: trafalgar - - April 4, 2004
Subject: Illicit soupbones
This stiff little "drama" asks the viewer not to indulge in under-the-table wartime purchases of meat (or tires, gasoline, shoes, etc). And once again, bad acting and writing come together to form entertainment!
Unfortunately, the filmmakers neglected to overdub the dismally-recorded sound, so this is a bit of a strain on the ears. Still, it's classic WWII stuff.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - - October 17, 2003
This film has an imposing beginning: ÂTHE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRESENTS" appears over scary, dramatic music. I've seen lots of government films, but none that begin that way. That would make a great opening sequence for just about any film or video you'd care to make. It begins a rather poorly-made film about black market meat trafficking during World War II. The entire film is narrated by a U.S. attorney addressing a jury in a very echoey courtroom. He presents a conspiracy by several shady-looking businessmen (who sit in the courtroom wiping sweat from their faces and looking generally nervous throughout the film) to buy and sell meat under the table at inflated prices. By an incredible coincidence, the ringleader of the racket is named Mr. A and his cronies are named Mr. B, Mr. C, Mr. D, Mr. E, and so forth all the way down the alphabet. Scenes are shown of members of the racket, who all dress, smoke, and generally act like gangsters, making shady deals with local butchers in the most suspicious-looking ways possible ("Got another 'soup bone' for me this week, mister (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more)?"). A title card at the end of the film tells us that all the people in the film are really law-abiding, decent folks who volunteered to help their country by portraying the "chiseling saboteurs" in this film. So I guess they were just kidding. I'm sure there really was some black market activity during the war, but this film is as unconvincing as all get-out.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - September 3, 2003
Subject: No no no, Not marketing to blacks!
A very interesting, but badly titled (at least for today) piece about the "black marketers" that were prevelant around World War II (and still around today), A beef racketeering group starts up, jacking up prices for beef and annoying some people when butchers want cash instead of ration stamps for their beef. The perpatrators of this are all put to trial. Astonishingly acted by (I'm guessing) amateurs who "are law abiding citizens who volunteered to show how black markets work", the main actor is the "lawyer" who puts in quite a dramatic performance that I was almost sure, until the end the guy was actually in court. The end IS kind of befuddling, when he turns to talk to the camera, but sort of adds to the charm of the whole piece. Highly reccomended!
Reviewer: Jussomgye - - June 30, 2003
Subject: Wartime black market drama
This film dramatizes a conspiracy to sell black market beef.
Black market beef? Beef is legal! Well, true, but with wartime rationing it was a different story.

Pretty good story, tied together by the "prosecutor's" monologue. The prosecutor talks to the public at the end to urge civic responsibility.

Good picture, decent sound, run time:10:50
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